The Law of Contact

Code of the Cactus (February 25, 1939)

Code of the Cactus

Released on February 25, 1939: Gangsters from Chicago discover that there is good money in rustling cattle with big trucks, and 'Lightning' Bill Carson is the man to out-rustle the rustlers.

Directed by Sam Newfield

The Actors: Tim McCoy ('Lightning' Bill Carson), Ben Corbett (Magpie), Dorothy Short (Joan), Ted Adams (Thurston), Stephen Chase (James, ranch foreman), Dave O'Brien (Bob Swane), Forrest Taylor (Blackton), Bob Terry (henchman Lefty), Slim Whitaker (Sheriff Burton), Frank Wayne (henchman Jake), Jimmy Aubrey (henchman), Lee Burns (henchman), Bob Card (henchman), Jim Corey (henchman), Rube Dalroy (barfly), Art Davis (cafe singer), Jack King (rancher), Carl Mathews (henchman), Kermit Maynard (henchman), Clyde McClary (rancher), Milburn Morante (old cowhand), George Morrell (Deputy Sheriff), Tex Palmer (rider), Lew Porter (piano player), Carl Sepulveda (henchman), James Sheridan (henchman), Robert Walker (Government agent).


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As I watched a couple of henchmen/cattle rustlers push a 1939 car out of the road and got themselves rustled in one of the early scenes, I thought back to a time many years ago when a friend and I were stranded on a dark and lonely road with a car that we couldn't drive home in. It was the first time that I tried to change a flat tire, and failed miserably. We were 16 or 17 years old, and it was a hot summer afternoon in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, so a buddy and I decided that we would drive the 30 or so miles to Kooser State Park and go swimming in the wide spot of the mountain trout stream that flowed through the park. Even though the day was hot, it didn't take more than a few minutes for our lips to turn bright blue from swimming in the cold mountain water. But the beach was great, and there were a handful of girls there having a fun time. Being fairly normal testosterone-filled teens, we eagerly chatted with them, and we both played the guitar a bit for them and the afternoon soon became the evening. (Didn't everyone play the guitar in the late 1960's? - except for those Ringo Starr fans that preferred the drums!) We were some of the last people to make our way down the tree-lined road back to the main highway and off towards home. But alas, my friend's Chrysler got a flat tire. You would think that a couple of invincible young men that knew for sure that they could do just about anything wouldn't have any trouble changing a flat tire, now would you? Well, we put the tire iron onto one of the lug nuts holding the wheel to the axel and tried mightily to loosen the nut. We could not get any of the lug nuts to loosen - not one of them; they would not budge one little bit. We even stood on the tire iron and jumped up and down - but those lug nuts held tight.

Finally, several hours later a car came up the lonely road and the fellow stopped to see what our problem was. He looked at the Chrysler, then at the obstinate wheel, and laughed mightily for a minute before explaining to us that for some reason Chrysler put nuts on one side of their cars that turned the opposite way from 'normal.' We knew the system for nuts and screws - 'Turn Right for Tight, and Left for Loose' - but Chrysler during those years put opposite threads on one side of their cars, and we needed to put the pressure in the opposite direction to loosen the nuts. For hours we had been stubbornly making the nuts even tighter! It still amazes me that one little piece of information can turn our whole world upside down if we don't have that information. I think that is what is meant when they say that 'knowledge is power.' Since then I have tried to never stop learning, and never stop questioning. The smallest piece of trivia may one day be very valuable in the right circumstance. Soon we had the tire changed, and got back home to very worried parents. Without cell phones or any other means of communication, they were certain that we had met our doom when we didn't return until many hours past the time that we were expected.

Now that you've had time to make your white kernel popcorn and melt a stick of butter to drizzle over it while you learned how dumb I was as a kid, it's time to enjoy another cowboy western starring the son of the Saginaw, Michigan Police Chief. Tim McCoy left Michigan to work on a Wyoming ranch before he discovered that punching cowboy villains in the movies was even better money than punching cows on the ranch. He appeared in 95 movies between 1925 and 1965, most famously as the character 'Lightning' Bill Carson, fastest gun in the west. In this adventure there are gangsters from Chicago rustling cattle with big trucks and sending them to the Chicago stock yards, and Lightning Bill disguises himself as a Mexican who steals the cattle from the rustlers, before he brings them all to justice.

Art DavisArt Davis, singing in the saloon
Art DavisArt Davis
Ben CorbettBen Corbett, 1939
Ben CorbettBen Corbett - 1939
Ben Corbett and Dorothy Short on horsebackBob Terry and Frank Wayne
Ben Corbett and Dorothy ShortBob Terry and Frank Wayne
Dave O'BrienDave O'Brien, Dorothy Short and Ben Corbett
Dave O'BrienDave O'Brien, Dorothy Short and Ben Corbett
Dorothy ShortDorothy Short and Ben Corbett on the ranch
Dorothy ShortDorothy Short and Ben Corbett
Dorothy Short and Ted Adams eating chocolatesForrest Taylor
Dorothy Short and Ted AdamsForrest Taylor
Forrest Taylor and RObert WalkerGeorge Morrell and Slim Whitaker
Forrest Taylor and Robert WalkerGeorge Morrell and Slim Whitaker
Stephen ChaseTed Adams and Forrest Taylor
Stephen ChaseTed Adams and Forrest Taylor
Tim McCoyTim McCoy, Dorothy Short and Dave O'Brien
Tim McCoyTim McCoy, Dorothy Short and Dave O'Brien
Tim McCoy disguised as a Mexicaon Bandit
Tim McCoy as a Mexican Bandit